In a world filled with tempting fast food, busy schedules, and endless distractions, making the transition to a healthier diet can be challenging.
So, here are 7 Nutritional Habits for a Healthier YOU. Yes, seven because even these few changes in your daily eating habits can lead to significant improvements in your overall health and well-being.
Consider these essential nutritional habits.
- Mindful Eating
- Balanced Meals
- Portion Control
- Meal Planning
- Healthy Snacking
- Consistency and Patience
By incorporating them into your daily routine, you can make sustainable changes that will benefit your body and mind.
7 Nutritional Habits for a Healthier You
1. Mindful Eating:
One of the first steps towards a healthier diet is practicing mindful eating.
This means paying full attention to your food, savoring each bite, and listening to your body’s hunger and fullness cues.
Avoid eating in front of the TV or computer, as this often leads to overeating and poor food choices.
Instead, sit down at a table, chew your food slowly, and appreciate the flavors and textures.
Mindful eating not only helps control portion sizes but also enhances your appreciation for the food you consume.
2. Balanced Meals:
Creating balanced meals is essential for providing your body with the necessary nutrients.
Aim to include a variety of food groups in each meal:
- lean proteins*
- whole grains*
- healthy fats*
- plenty of fruits and vegetables
This balanced approach ensures you get a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients that your body needs for optimal functioning.
*See FAQs below for a full picture of these foods.
3. Portion Control:
Understanding portion sizes is crucial when trying to eat healthier. Overeating, even with nutritious foods, can lead to weight gain.
Utilize tools like measuring cups and food scales to become more aware of portion sizes.
Another helpful strategy is to use smaller plates, which can help control portion sizes and trick your brain into thinking you’ve had a full meal.
Many people underestimate the importance of proper hydration in a healthy diet.
Staying well-hydrated supports digestion, helps control appetite, and aids in overall health. Aim to drink at least 8 glasses per day, and more if you’re physically active.
Herbal teas and infused water are excellent alternatives for those looking to add flavor without the extra calories and sugar found in many beverages.
5. Meal Planning:
Meal planning can be a game-changer when it comes to making healthier food choices.
Set aside time each week to plan your meals and snacks. I like to do this on the weekend, Saturday or Sunday, depending on which works best for me that week..
This not only saves time in the rest of the week but also helps you make conscious choices about what you’ll eat.
Prepare your grocery list in advance and stick to it to avoid impulse purchases of less healthy items. I also usually eat before heading to the store, which helps me avoid food items I might be tempted buy otherwise.
6. Healthy Snacking:
Snacking doesn’t have to be synonymous with chips and candy. Choose nutrient-dense snacks such as:
- fresh fruit
- vegetables with hummus
- Greek yogurt
- a handful of nuts
These options provide valuable nutrients and energy without the excessive sugar and empty calories often found in processed snacks.
7. Consistency and Patience:
Establishing new habits takes time, and it’s essential to be patient with yourself.
Consistency is key when adopting a healthier diet. You may experience setbacks or cravings for less nutritious foods, but that’s completely normal.
Don’t be too hard on yourself; instead, focus on the progress you’re making and the positive changes you’re experiencing in your body and energy levels.
What are lean proteins?
Lean protein sources are typically those that provide a significant amount of protein with minimal added fat.
These protein sources are considered healthier choices because they can help you meet your protein needs without contributing excessive amounts of saturated or unhealthy fats to your diet.
Common examples of lean protein sources include:
- Skinless Poultry: Chicken and turkey breast meat, especially without the skin, are lean sources of protein.
- Lean Cuts of Meat: Select cuts of beef, such as sirloin, tenderloin, or round, contain less fat compared to fattier cuts like ribeye or T-bone steaks.
- Fish: Many fish, such as salmon, trout, and mackerel, are considered fatty fish and contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids. However, white fish like cod, haddock, and tilapia are lean protein sources.
- Tofu: Tofu is a plant-based protein made from soybeans. It is low in fat and an excellent source of lean protein for vegetarians and vegans.
- Legumes: Beans, lentils, and chickpeas are plant-based sources of protein that are low in fat and high in fiber.
- Low-Fat Dairy: Low-fat or fat-free dairy products like skim milk, yogurt, and cheese are good sources of lean protein, although some individuals may prefer dairy alternatives like almond or soy milk.
- Eggs: Egg whites are primarily protein and contain very little fat, making them a lean protein option.
It’s important to incorporate lean protein sources into your diet as they offer the benefits of protein without the potential drawbacks of excessive saturated fat.
Protein is an essential part of a balanced diet, and by choosing lean protein sources, you can support your overall health and well-being.
What are whole grains?
“Whole grains” refer to grains that are minimally processed and include all parts of the grain kernel, which consists of three main components: the bran, the germ, and the endosperm.
Understanding what makes a grain whole is essential for making healthier dietary choices.
Here’s a breakdown of these components:
- Bran: The outer layer of the grain kernel. It contains fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This is the part of the grain that provides roughage and nutrients.
- Germ: The small, nutrient-rich core of the grain kernel. It contains essential fatty acids, vitamins (like B vitamins), minerals, and antioxidants.
- Endosperm: The innermost part of the grain. It contains starchy carbohydrates and provides a source of energy.
Whole grains are beneficial for your health because they retain all three of these components, providing a broader range of nutrients and dietary fiber compared to refined grains. Dietary fiber aids in digestion, helps you feel full, and can contribute to better heart health.
Examples of whole grains include:
- Whole Wheat: This includes grains like whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, and whole wheat flour, where the bran, germ, and endosperm are all present.
- Brown Rice: Unlike white rice, brown rice retains the bran and germ, making it a whole grain with more nutrients and fiber.
- Oats: Oats, including old-fashioned oats and steel-cut oats, are considered whole grains as they contain the entire grain kernel.
- Quinoa: Quinoa is a nutritious whole grain that is also a complete protein source, making it a great choice for vegetarians and vegans.
- Barley: Pearl barley and hulled barley are whole grains that contain the bran, germ, and endosperm.
- Buckwheat: Buckwheat is a gluten-free whole grain that can be used in various dishes, including pancakes and porridge.
Consuming whole grains is a healthier choice compared to refined grains because they provide a broader spectrum of nutrients and are generally lower on the glycemic index, which can help regulate blood sugar levels.
Whole grains are associated with various health benefits, including improved heart health, better digestion, and reduced risk of chronic diseases like diabetes.
To incorporate more whole grains into your diet, look for foods that are labeled as “whole grain” or “100% whole wheat” to ensure you’re getting the full nutritional benefits of these grains.
What are healthy fats?
“Healthy fats” are a type of dietary fat that is beneficial for your overall health when consumed in moderation. Unlike unhealthy or saturated fats, which can have negative effects on your well-being, healthy fats offer several health benefits.
They play a crucial role in various bodily functions and can be found in various foods. Here’s an explanation of healthy fats:
Healthy fats are typically categorized into two main types:
- Monounsaturated Fats: These fats are liquid at room temperature and can help improve your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease. Monounsaturated fats are found in foods like:
- Olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil is a popular source of monounsaturated fat and is commonly used in cooking and salad dressings.
- Avocado: Avocado is a unique fruit that is high in monounsaturated fats, making it a heart-healthy addition to your diet.
- Nuts: Almonds, cashews, and peanuts are rich in monounsaturated fats and make for nutritious snacks.
- Polyunsaturated Fats: These fats are also liquid at room temperature and contain essential fatty acids, such as omega-3 and omega-6. These fats are beneficial for brain health, reducing inflammation, and supporting heart health. Polyunsaturated fats can be found in foods like:
- Fatty Fish: Salmon, mackerel, and sardines are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known for their heart-protective benefits.
- Flaxseeds and Chia Seeds: These seeds provide omega-3 fatty acids and can be added to smoothies, yogurt, or used in baking.
- Soybeans: Soybean oil and tofu contain polyunsaturated fats and are commonly used in cooking and vegetarian diets.
- Other Sources of Healthy Fats:
- Walnuts: Walnuts are rich in both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and are a great option for snacking.
- Seeds: Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds contain a mix of healthy fats and can be added to salads or used as a topping.
It’s important to incorporate healthy fats into your diet because they have numerous benefits for your body.
- improve cholesterol levels
- support brain health
- reduce inflammation
- provide a feeling of fullness, which can aid in weight management
However, it’s essential to consume these fats in moderation, as they are calorie-dense. Replacing saturated and trans fats in your diet with healthy fats is a smart choice for overall well-being.
7 Nutritional Habits for a Healthier You
Transitioning to a healthier diet doesn’t have to be an overwhelming or unpleasant experience.
By incorporating these nutritional habits into your daily routine, you can make gradual, sustainable changes that lead to a healthier and happier you.
Remember, the journey to better nutrition is a marathon, not a sprint. Be kind to yourself, stay committed, and celebrate your successes along the way. You will truly appreciate your improved vitality and well-being.
By practicing mindful eating, creating balanced meals, controlling portion sizes, staying hydrated, planning your meals, choosing healthy snacks, and maintaining consistency, you’ll be well on your way to achieving a healthier you.